State Capital Highlights

By Ed Sterling, Texas Press Association —

Perry goes on business-luring trip

AUSTIN — Maryland is the next state in Gov. Rick Perry's sights. He's
already been to California, Connecticut, Missouri and New York to court
businesses, hoping they will pull up stakes and head to the Lone Star
State.

Perry announced on Sept. 12 that he would be in Maryland on Sept. 18
to make his pitch. To prepare Maryland for his arrival, a 60-second
radio ad and 30-second TV ad are running in several markets. “The ads
showcase the opportunities and freedom available to families and
businesses thanks to Texas' smart fiscal policies,” the governor's
office stated, adding, the nearly $500,000 television and radio ad buys
and the governor's trip are paid for by “TexasOne” and “no state tax
dollars were to be used for his travel and accommodations, or for the ad
buy.”

TexasOne, according to information at texasone.com, raises money to
fund “special events, outreach programs, and other exciting and highly
visible marketing and communications programs. These programs are
directed at a targeted audience of corporate decision makers and site
selectors.”

An excerpt of what Perry says in one advertisement is this:
“Unfortunately, your governor has made Maryland the tax and fee state,
where businesses and families are paying some of the highest taxes in
America. Since taking office in 2007, he's approved 40 new taxes and
fees, projected to cost you $9.5 billion more through 2014. That's a job
killer. …”

The Baltimore Sun, in a Sept. 12 news article about Perry's planned
visit, quoted a spokeswoman for Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. She
referred to the visit as a “job-poaching expedition.”

Justice Hecht gets promoted

Gov. Perry on Sept. 10 announced the appointment of Justice Nathan L.
Hecht of Austin as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Texas,
effective Oct. 1.

Hecht, set to serve as the court's 27th chief justice, succeeds
Wallace B. Jefferson, who announced his resignation earlier this month.

Hecht was first elected to the Supreme Court of Texas in 1988 and is
the senior justice on the court. He has won re-election four times. He
previously served as a justice of the Texas 5th Court of Appeals and as
judge of the 95th Judicial District Court in Dallas County.Tax revenue
trend continues

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs on Sept. 11 announced the state sales
tax revenue in August was $2.39 billion, up 2.1 percent compared to
August 2012.

“The latest monthly gains were led by sectors such as construction
and the restaurant industry,” Combs said. “For the recently ended fiscal
year, state sales tax revenue totaled $25.8 billion, an increase of 7.2
percent from fiscal 2012. Both business and consumer spending
contributed to the gains for the year.”

Combs said she would send cities, counties, transit systems and
special purpose taxing districts their September local sales tax
allocations totaling $575 million, up 2.8 percent compared to September
2012.Election ID obtainable

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 5, and election identification
certificates are now available, only for voters who do not already have a
required form of photo identification. There is no fee for the
certificate.

On Sept. 13, opportunities to obtain a certificate were expanded
when the Texas Department of Public Safety announced that a select group
of 50 Texas Department of Public Safety offices will be open to accept
applications for an election ID certificate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on
Saturdays until Nov. 2. For more information, go to dps.texas.gov or
call (512) 424-2600.

Robotic tuna checks hull

A six-foot-long robotic fish designed to detect contraband hidden on a
ship's hull is being tested on the hull of the Battleship Texas, the
museum ship docked at the San Jacinto State Historic site in La Porte.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Sept. 11 reported that the
fish, going by the name of BIOSwimmer, “is a highly maneuverable,
unmanned underwater vehicle that is equipped with a sophisticated suite
of sensors and embodies the natural shape of a tuna.”

A test team, the agency said, planted packages “of mock contraband
of varying sizes in tight, hard-to-reach spaces on the battleship's hull
and putting the BIOSwimmer through the paces to see if it can
successfully detect them.”

A heavy-gunned dreadnought class vessel that served in World War I
and World War II, the Battleship Texas “is showing us that you're never
too old to be of service to your country,” said Andy Smith, the ship
manager for Texas Parks & Wildlife.

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